There isn’t a Mel Kiper Jr. for the MLS SuperDraft. This is probably because the SuperDraft, historically, has taken a back seat to foreign-player acquisitions and the allocation of U.S. national team members returning from Europe.
That changed a few years ago, thanks to the involvement of adidas (Generation adidas players don’t count against a team’s salary cap) and teams looking to build a core of young players (Dallas, for example).
This year should be an extension of that importance. With larger rosters (30 slots) and an improved focus on developmental players (six slots on the team’s roster are reserved for players who are 24-years-old who don’t count against the salary cap -- this includes home-grown players such as Jon Kempin), the MLS SuperDraft will be a quick way for teams fill out their squad.
As with last year, this promises to be a fairly deep and talented crop of college players turning pro.
A brief history of KC drafts
There are 10 players drafted by Sporting Kansas City who are still on the team:
• Davy Arnaud, #50 overall (2002)
• Jack Jewsbury, #43 overall (2003)
• Eric Kronberg, #40 overall (2006)
• Michael Harrington, #3 overall (2007)
• Chance Myers, #1 overall (2008)
• Roger Espinoza, #11 overall (2008)
• Matt Besler, #8 overall (2009)
• Graham Zusi, #23 overall (2009)
• Teal Bunbury, #4 overall (2010)
• Korede Aiyegbusi, #20 overall (2010)
Some former notable Sporting KC first-round draft picks (and where they are now):
• 2000: Nick Garcia, #2 overall (Appeared in 224 games for Kansas City; spent the last few years with San Jose and Toronto, currently out of contract and available in the MLS re-entry draft)
• 2001: Jose Burciaga Jr, #12 overall (Appeared in 115 games for KC; out of MLS since 2008)
• 2004: Matt Taylor, #4 overall (Spent one season with KC, was selected by Chivas USA in the 2005 expansion draft; currently playing with Rot Weiss Ahlen in Germany's 3rd division)
• 2005: Scott Sealy, #11 overall (Appeared in 88 games over three seasons with KC before moving to San Jose then Israell; currently under contract with the San Jose Earthquakes)
• 2006: Yura Movsisyan, #4 overall (Was the first non-Division I player selected in MLS draft history, was traded to Salt Lake in 2007; currently playing with Randers in Denmark)
About the 2011 draft
The first step in the college draft will be the combine Jan. 8-11. Team president Robb Heineman has said that the team is exploring a few trades around the league, but will likely wait until after seeing a few players in the combine before pulling the trigger.
Head coach Peter Vermes, who sits on the combine committee, says the team’s college scouting this year has been "excellent." Here are the college seniors invited to the combine.
The draft is Jan. 13 in Baltimore.*
*The draft takes place in conjunction with the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. It is held in Baltimore this year, in 2012 it will be held in Kansas City. That’s according to Steven Goff at Soccer Insider.
Here’s the draft order:
3. D.C. United
4. Chivas USA
6. New England
8. Vancouver (from Toronto)
10. Kansas City
13. New York
14. Real Salt Lake
15. San Jose
16. Los Angeles
Kansas City has four picks overall, one in each round: #10 (Round 1), #32 (Round 2*), #46 (Round 3), #64 (Round 4)
*Pick acquired from Real Salt Lake in exchange for midfielder Luis Gil. Kansas City traded their natural Round 2 selection to Philadelphia for defender Shavar Thomas.
For further research
I will admit, my knowledge of the college game is somewhat lacking. Okay, it’s completely lacking. But there are people who know things. Here are a few links to scope if you’d like more information about the 2011 SuperDraft. (I know I’ll be hitting up YouTube soon.)
• Soccer by Ives has his big board of available players.
• The Early Bath has an early look at potential Generation adidas players.